If you are looking for good schools....

Asked by John, Cupertiono, ca Fri Jul 11, 2008

Are there any areas you can recommend in Santa Clara County that would be better suited for a family? We will be having our first child soon and would like to move to a kid friendly neighborhood with good schools. We are open to any area between Menlo Park and San Jose... Any help would be really appreciated. Our budget is $1M and under. Thnks

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Thibaud, , Cambrian area of South San Jose 95124
Sun Jul 13, 2008
BEST ANSWER
John - I'm not a realtor and don't have any financial interest in your decision, but my wife and I have two children, were looking in the under $900k bracket in the Menlo-SJ area, and settled on the Cambrian neighborhood south of Hwy 85 near Leigh High School. We've been living here for two years and are in general satisfied with our choice. We're financially-conservative buyers and aren't terribly impressed with California hype generally (the schools everywhere in Calif. are poor compared to schools in most of Europe and east Asia), and would rather buy low and steadily upgrade our house than pay absurd prices for someone else's design choices.

Here are our personal impressions of various neighborhoods, moving from North to South:

Menlo Park and Palo Alto: absurdly overpriced; very poor quality of houses under $1m; schools are overrated; bad crime problem as you get closer to Hwy 101.

Los Altos: nothing except townhomes under $1m. In the next life, maybe.

Cupertino: >75% Asian-- and not just Asian, not just east Asian, but overwhelmingly drawn from one island off the coast of China (Taiwan). Your mileage may vary but we found this situation very uncomfortable. Not a good way to raise a child, we think, in what is (outside Cupertino) perhaps the most diverse metro region in the western world.

Sunnyvale: a better bet financially but generally poor quality housing. Mediocre schools. Weird mix of old-time rednecks/Okies and Indian engineers.

Campbell: crummy schools, many apartment complexes (read: noise, transients, potential for crime).

Saratoga: overrated schools. No houses under $1m worth looking at.

Los Gatos: Excellent schools. You may find something under $1m if you look far and wide, but it's not likely to be nice or updated. Los Gatos downtown is lovely. If you have a chance to live close to downtown, grab it with both hands.

San Jose (Cambrian/Campell Union School District): good schools, excellent housing value, up and coming areas (stay away from Camden Ave; keep close to either Los Gatos border or Leigh HS). Good teachers. Main reason that API scores are lower than Los Gatos is the higher % of uneducated campesino families in Campbell Union School District (about 18% vs less than 5% in LG).

San Jose (Almaden area): very good schools, okay housing value. Better API scores than Campbell Union mainly because of higher % of Asian students (ca. 30% Asian in Almaden vs 15% in Campbell) and lower % of uneducated campesinos. One big drawback if you work on the Peninsula: you'll have a brutal commute to Palo Alto or anywhere north on Hwy 85.

In sum, your best strategy is to go for Los Gatos if you can find a special situation or distressed seller and if not, then either Campbell Union /Leigh HS area or Almaden. Keep in mind that if, like us, you're pretty sure you'll do private schools for the upper grades, then you'll do well to stick with Campbell Union SD for elementary school and save HUGE amounts on your mortgage. You can find an excellent 1600 sq ft. house near Leigh HS for under $850k.

A final word of advice: do not listen to realtor BS about the schools. The API score is basically an indication of the % of super-educated asian immigrant families (raises the score markedly) and the % of semi-literate mexican immigrant families in the school. It says little about the quality of the school itself or of the neighborhood's composition. Los Gatos and Cupertino and a few schools in Almaden and Campbell Union are the only districts we've found that have any real rigor or high standards.

Best of luck,
T and M
2 votes
Grace Keng, Agent, Santa Clara, CA
Fri Jul 11, 2008
John,
Congratulations on your upcoming baby.
There are many good schools in family-friendly neighborhoods, can find great homes under 1M such as. Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, West San Jose, Almaden. Here is a link of santa Clara county schools API http://api.cde.ca.gov/AcntRpt2008/2007Base_Co.aspx?cYear=&am…

If you have more question, just give me a call or email me. Good luck of searching.

Grace Keng, CRS
1 vote
Bill Mccord, Agent, San Jose, CA
Fri Jul 11, 2008
John,
I suggest you do a little homework on your own before deciding which areas might suit you better. Although schools are important the complete neighborhood is what decides overall quality of life. My best recomendation is The McCormack Guide for Santa Clara County. http://www.mccormacks.com/books/s_clara.html this will give you a much broader perspective including schools data. You might find it worth while to buy the hard copy book.
Good luck,
Bill
1 vote
Michelle Car…, Agent, Coppertino, AL
Fri Jul 11, 2008
John, there are lots of excellent choices under $1M; a lot depends on your definitions of kid friendly (walking distance to parks & schools, other young children); good schools (a minimum API of 800 or ?) and what you expect for the $1M. In Cambrian with Branham & Leigh, there are lots of nice mid-sized homes for under $850K; if you are looking for new or newer homes, that may be more difficult to find. A good resource is http://www.greatschools.net.

Talk with friends you know who own, especially those who've bought recently in a similar life situation.
Web Reference:  http://www.greatschools.net
1 vote
Ali Moein, Agent, Saratoga, CA
Fri Jul 11, 2008
John,
Congratulations on becoming a father! Your life will be filled with joy and love and thoughts of your family will put smiles on your face at all times :)
Ali Moein
Father (11 and 9 yrs old)

Here are the areas you may want to explore:

From South to North:
2. San Jose Almaden Valley (Zip code 95120) This is a great family neighbohood. A lot of young families are choosing to live there because its quiet, somewhat newer (homes range from 20 to 30 yrs) close to the west side mountain (los Gatos) and has good schools, specifically Williams or Guadalupe Elementary, Bret heart Middle and Leland high schools. You can find a nice home for about $1Mil in the area.

2. Campbell (zip code 95008). Campbell is a nice small town with lot of activities and accommodations for families. This is somewhat of an older neighborhood, some of the homes 50+ yrs old. Price ranges from $700K and up depending on the age and location of the home. Campbell in general has good schools. Parts of Cambrian p5124 zip code benefit from Campbell schools.

3. West San Jose (95130 and 95129 zip code) There are some real nice pockets in these neighborhoods. Some of the homes are within Cupertino schools (95129 zip code) and some are within Campbell and moreland schools (95130).

4. Santa Clara (95050 zip code). Santa Clara is a great, mature city ideally located close to everything. Portions of this area enjoys the great schools of Cupertino and are very attractive.

5. Sunnyvale (94086 zip code). There are some neighborhoods in this zip code that are very attractive, close to everything and with good schools.

6 Mtn view (94043 zip code) Mtn view has great potentials and it has a great locality. You'll be able to find smaller/older homes with lots of character in Mtn view within your price range.

Well that's about it. There are a few other areas that may want to keep an eye on. These areas are a bit over the $1Mil price range, but if you're willing to compromise on the size and age of the home you'll be able to find a nugget:

Saratoga (95070 zip code) parts of Saratoge with Campbell schools.
Sunnyvale (94087 zip code) this is more pricey part of Sunyvale with Cupertino schools
Mtn View (94040 zip code) This is ritzy part of mtn view

Hoe this helps. I might have left one or two worthy areas out, but I'm sure by compling all the responses you'll get in here you'll have a complete picture.

Happy Shopping!
1 vote
Ulli Rieckma…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Fri Jul 11, 2008
Hi John,

Los Altos and Cupertino are highly rated for their schools. In Los Altos starter houses begin at $1M, but there are some condos or townhouses for just under $1M available. In Cupertino you would be able to get a house for under $1M. Cupertino has some very nice neighborhoods to raise a family and you are able to send your children to excellent schools.

Another option is Menlo Park and Palo Alto. They also have very good schools.

If you have any further questions I can answer, please let me know.

Take care and happy house hunting.

Ulli
1 vote
Linda Baker, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Fri Jul 11, 2008
Hi John,
First, congratulations on your upcoming baby.
Your question is a broad, open-ended question, with lots of room for variables, such as your definition of a good school. There are many good schools in family-friendly neighborhoods, and $1m can find you many great homes. Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, West San Jose, Cambrian or Almaden in San Jose all have high scoring schools, with safe neighborhoods and nice houses.
I think the first thing you should do is work with a realtor who can help you define your criteria, show you what you can buy with your budget in the different areas, and start shopping.
I would be happy to meet with you & your wife to help you discover the various neighborhoods, and find the best house in the best neighborhood for you. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that there is no perfect, absolute answer. It is putting the variables together to make the best decision for you. I will help you steer through the process so that you feel as if you are in control of your destiny. It really can be a fun experience buying a home! Especially when it is a buyers market!!
Happy House Hunting,
Linda Baker
Alain Pinel Realtors
408.712.3432
1 vote
Nina Daruwal…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sun Sep 21, 2008
Hi John,
There are several area in SCC that have good schools, and neighborhoods. Yes you can get a home within your budget. Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Almaden Valley in San Jose, and Cambrian, Mountain View, all have good schools and family oriented neighborhoods....... Do you want a single family home only, or are you open to Town homes too?
I live and work in Cupertino, have kids in schools here, and work by referral, all of these areas. I also work as a Public Safety Commissioner with the City of Cupertino.
Do check out my website at http://www.ninadaruwalla.com, and contact me. I will take you from start to finish and beyond, taking exceptional care of you and your family! Safe delivery and the Best to both of you!
Be well and safe, regards,
Nina
Web Reference:  http://www.ninadaruwalla.com
0 votes
LoveBayArea, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Wed Jul 16, 2008
I am not sure what is your commutte criterian, but San Ramon, CA has similar rated schools as Cupertino (API, etc). Home prices are much lower, newer homes and feel of familiy orientaed place with parks, lirary, new schools etc.... Only bad part is commutte - depending on ur location
0 votes
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